Minnesota Teen shoots first elk, and it’s a doozy

Ryker Copp and his family pose with the trophy elk he harvested Sunday in Kittson Co. near the...
Ryker Copp and his family pose with the trophy elk he harvested Sunday in Kittson Co. near the Canadian border.(Jerred Copp)
Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 12:52 PM CDT
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WARREN, Minn. (KARE 11) - Ryker Copp loves hockey, not unusual for a 13-year-old who hails from northwestern Minnesota.

The second-year peewee is preparing for tryouts where he skates for Thief River Falls, but can be forgiven if he has a little something else on his mind.

Scratch that... make it a BIG something.

Ryker earned what may be the harvest of a lifetime Sunday when he dropped a trophy elk in a field near Caribou, Minnesota, a Kittson County outpost that is about as close to the Canadian border as you can get. He and his dad Jerred were out after Ryker was drawn to get an elk tag, a rare opportunity that many hunters don’t get in their lifetimes.

“It’s tough. I’ve applied for years but never got one,” Jerred Copp shared.

Jerred recounted the events with KARE 11 Wednesday as he combined corn for a friend near the family’s home in the community of Warren. Jerred, who owns the Ash Grove Ag seed company, says after Ryker found out he had an elk tag the two began scouting in zone 30, which includes land near Caribou. The two had previously spotted the enormous beast and knew he was the one they wanted.

The hunt opened Saturday, with Ryker and Jerred setting up where they had previously seen the prize elk but there was no action at all. Sunday began the same way and eventually, they decided to relocate their blind. After moving about two miles north, Ryker and his dad patiently waited, and at about 6:30 p.m. the elk emerged from cover. Jerred says he tried to stay calm hoping Ryker would do the same.

“Are you ready?” Jerred recalls asking his son. “Yep Dad, I’m ready,” Ryker replied.

The elk wandered closer. They hoped to get a shot inside 350 feet but the elk stopped at around 359. Jerred figured that might be as good as it would get, so he told Ryker to prepare for the shot. Already a veteran outdoorsman with three years of deer and bird hunting under his belt, Ryker steadied... and shot, dropping his target on the spot.

“We were high-fiving, jumping up and down in the ground blind, I think it bounced 10 feet in the air,” Jerred laughed.

The rack on the bull measured 8X10 and field dressed between 950 and 1,000 lbs. Jerred Copp has harvested elk out west, but none have come close to the one his son bagged. “It blows all mine away.”

In the days since, Ryker has done a number of interviews and answered a lot of questions, an experience his dad says the 13-year-old has enjoyed... to a point.

“He’s not a big attention-getter. A humble kid who just gets things done,” Jerred explained.